While their first two albums 1973’s bubblegum classic ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’ released the following year were nothing to scoff at, this self-titled record showed a maturity not heard from ABBA before as more time was spent on the recording than ever before.
Written by: Eric
SERIAL: POLS 262
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden
LINEUP: Agnetha Faltskog – vocals * Anni-Frid Lyngstad – vocals * Benny Andersson – keyboards, synthesizer, vocals * Bjorn Ulvaeus – guitar, vocals
Additional Musicians: Ulf Andersson – sax * Ola Brunkert, Roger Palm – drums * Bruno Glenmark – trumpet * Rutger Gunnarsson – bass * Janne Schaffer, Finn Sjoberg, Bjorn Utvous, Lasse Wellander – guitar
TRACK LISTING: 01 Mamma Mia * 02 Hey, Hey Helen * 03 Tropical Loveland * 04 SOS * 05 Man In The Miracle * 06 Bang-A Boomerang * 07 I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do * 08 Rock Me * 09 Intermezzo No.1 * 10 I’ve Been Waiting For You * 11 So Long
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Admit it, at this very moment you have an ABBA song running through your head. Like it or not, it’s there swirling around and sprinkling the grey matter with delicious sugary hooks that will never leave, if you’re lucky. ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ or ‘Waterloo’ maybe. How about ‘Take A Chance On Me’, ‘Super Trouper’ or their fantastic 1979 single ‘Does Your Mother Know’.
I could mention a dozen others and there’s reason for this although it’s not just the marketing genius of band manager Stig Anderson who should have been crowned King of Sweden or the cool Scandinavian sexiness of Agnetha and Frida, but that certainly helped.
No, it was about the music and well-written pop songs with universal appeal that sold millions with no apologies. Brought together by fate, the four members of ABBA were no strangers to the music business, releasing singles and albums in different bands and as solo artists in Sweden since the 1960’s with varying success. Once the foursome moved out of the folkparks, ‘schlager’ stylings and Eurovision entries there was no stopping ABBA from world domination and this 1975 album started the ball rolling.
While their first two albums 1973’s bubblegum classic ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’ released the following year were nothing to scoff at, this self-titled record showed a maturity not heard from ABBA before as more time was spent on the recording than ever before. Up to this point, ABBA were seen as Eurovision has-beens but here the band’s multi-layered vocals and progressive approach to pop song writing brought the music to a new and exciting level.
‘Mamma Mia’ opens the album and has since become a successful franchise of its own both as a Broadway musical and popular movie. That aside, it is a lively pop song and completely infectious although ‘Hey, Hey, Helen’ with its glammy guitar and backbeat is far more to my liking.
There a couple duds here including the boring as its title ‘Tropical Loveland’ and the albums true low-point ‘Man In The Miracle’ with vocals by Bjorn Ulvaeus and a political bent that should never have been put on an ABBA album. Of course the classical pop of ‘S.O.S’ saves the day and is truly one of the best songs ABBA put to tape while ‘Bang-A Boomerang’ recalls the tasty and sugar sweet bubblegum of the first album and I’m absolutely in heaven.
Not to be outdone ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ is a pure pop love fest captured in a huge Spectoresque wall of sound although ‘Rock Me’ takes us back to a Glam rock sound and isn’t entirely successful. Good, but not great and yet would you ever expect ABBA to tackle progressive rock? Indeed, that’s what we have with the instrumental Mannheim Steamroller meets The Enid ‘Intermezzo No.1’ and big surprise – it works.
Finally, ‘So Long’ rocks out and again a glam rock style similar to early Sweet and was actually released as the album’s first single hitting the top ten in both Sweden and Australia. Nice one and a perfect close to one of ABBA’s most appealing albums.
ABBA went from strength to strength well into the early 80’s, not to mention solo albums and side projects and I’ve been known to pull out one or two of the band’s albums from the collection every couple months for an always needed pop fix. Yet so many times I’ve read and heard people refer to ABBA as a ‘guilty pleasure’. Huh? Why feel guilty about music that makes you feel good. Isn’t that the point?
Entire Album (Select Tracks)